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Defeat Diabetes
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Drug Spending Increase for Diabetes, Overtakes Cholesterol

Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2008

Use of diabetes drugs increased only 2.3% last year, but spending rose 12%. The big driver was the introduction of new, expensive medicines that replace or are added to older, cheaper ones. 

 
In health spending, how many people are being treated for a disease can be a lot less important than how much it costs to treat each person. That’s what we took from this report out today from Medco, the pharmacy benefits manager.
Diabetes treatments are now the leading driver of prescription drug spending growth, displacing lipid-lowering drugs which fell precipitously after a decade of reigning in the top position, as generic drugs cut the cost of treating high cholesterol.
For example, the report said, patients are switching from older insulins to newer versions that are faster- or longer-acting, such as Novo Nordisk’s NovoLog and Sanofi-Aventis’s Lantus, respectively.

Beyond insulin, higher spending on Byetta (from Amylin and Lilly) and Januvia (from Merck) was more than enough to offset the decline in spending for GlaxoSmithKline’s Avandia that followed questions about the safety of the medicine, the report said.

 
Overall, spending on diabetes drugs accounted for 7% of prescription drug cost for health plans, according to the report.
That was still less than lipid-lowering drugs, such as statins, which accounted for 10.8% of the cost. But the cholesterol drugs are quickly moving in the opposite direction, with spending on the class falling 8.5% last year.

Use of the cholesterol drugs actually grew much faster than use of diabetes drugs last year (5.9% versus 2.3%). But two big statins, Merck’s Zocor and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Pravachol, went generic in 2006, driving prices through the floor. Use of Pfizer’s Lipitor, which is still patented, fell a bit, as some insurers pushed patients on Lipitor to switch to generics.

The report is based on some $36 billion worth of prescriptions filled by Medco clients over two years.

Source: Diabetes In Control

 
 
 
 
 
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